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Photo book Curves aims to give young girls a healthier body image

Sara Dobie Bauer is a writer, model and mental health advocate with a creative writing degree from Ohio University. Her short story "Don't Ball the Boss" (inspired by her shameless crush on Benedict Cumberbatch) was nominated for the Pus...

Curves gives us what we always wanted: A book embracing women of all shapes, sizes

The fashion photography of Victoria Janashvili has appeared in magazines all over the world, but now, she makes a name for herself with her photo collection, Curves, to show that women are beautiful, no matter the dress size.

Perhaps Meghan Trainor says it best in her hit song, "All About That Bass," when she proudly declares, "Every inch of you is perfect, from the bottom to the top." Victoria is a big fan of the poppy tune. She said, "That song definitely helped me. I wish there were more artists as cool as [Trainor]."

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Victoria has been a photographer for the past five years, a photographer's assistant before that, and surprisingly, a lawyer in politics before that. She tried to make a difference through politics, but once she got involved in the art scene, there was no going back. "It was a huge revelation for me," she said. "I was working for days and days on a resolution, trying to get people to hear what we had to say, whereas you could make a movie or take a very powerful photograph and get to the heart of so many more people. It's a much more direct way of expressing your feelings."

The idea for her book, Curves, has been long in the making, due, in part, to her experience as a photographer's assistant, when Victoria was first introduced to Photoshop. She was a hard-working touch-up artist, which, she admits, desensitized her to the process of erasing imperfections. She said, "When you do something for a while, it's not shocking anymore."

Lucky for Victoria, the Photoshop before and after images were still pretty shocking to her friends and family. She said, "Every time I had some girlfriends over at my house or even my family, I'd show the before and after pictures. It just blows people's minds. Those girls that are so perfect in the Photoshopped pictures are totally unrelatable. It gives people something to aim for, but it's not even realistic. Then, when you see the same girl with a fat roll or maybe under-eye bags, it makes her so much more human and, a lot of times, it makes people feel better about themselves."

More: For every girl who ever felt ugly

Which is the main goal of Curves, the book Victoria is funding via her Kickstarter campaign with three donation days to go. "There's this thing about phototherapy," she said. "When you look at beautiful pictures of a woman who has a similar body type to yours, you feel more confident about yourself. Curves can actually make women feel more beautiful. It can give girls a healthier body image." She continued, "When I was a little girl, I wish someone had given me a book like Curves."

All of society has noted the ongoing skinny trend in fashion photography. Somehow, modern culture moved from embracing the full-figured Marilyn Monroe to bone-thin Kate Moss. Victoria admits there is a reason for this. She said, "Clothes fit very easily on women who don't have shapes. If you're putting a similar dress on a woman who has a curvier body, it's more difficult because it needs more alterations." Fair enough.

So where does the plus-size model fit? First, what is a plus-size model? According to Victoria, anyone from a size 10 to 20. Most models you see on the catwalk are sizes zero to four, but Victoria is tired of the labeling. She said, "I feel like at some point we really need to lose the separation and just put the label 'model' on everybody."

More: Swimwear model fights back against bogus Photoshopping

When I asked if plus-size models will ever replace skin and bones, Victoria said she didn't see a need for replacement at all. She said, "That's one of the things I'm trying to show in my book. My book is not about plus-size models. It's about being a woman. I'm going to have very skinny models, older models, plus-size models and ethnic models. We don't have to represent one face of beauty versus the other."

Victoria's photography collection (featuring short articles written by her models) should be available in the spring of 2015, thanks to her Kickstarter campaign. She's not shaking her fist at the modeling industry. Instead, she said, "There just needs to be diversity. You can't say, 'Only skinny blond women are beautiful.' That's crazy."

More reading

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5 Ways to have a positive self-image

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